30-Minute Minestrone

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An abundance of colorful veggies is the basis for this classic, comforting soup, which cooks in one pot for a go-to meal on a busy night. The flexible recipe is protein-rich and plant-based, but a variety of meats may be added for those who enjoy.

An abundance of colorful veggies is the basis for this classic, comforting soup, which cooks in one pot for a go-to meal on a busy night. The flexible recipe is protein-rich and plant-based, but a variety of meats may be added for those who enjoy.

 

 

 

Soups provide a stellar way to increase our of intake of healthy vegetables in an appealing, comfort food sort of way.

When they can be prepared quickly in a single pot and provide convenient leftovers, all the better!

The following recipe is vegan when vegetable broth is chosen over chicken broth but can be bolstered with a variety of meats for those who enjoy. That said, I like minestrone because, even without meat, there’s plenty of plant-based protein to be filling-and it’s economical, too.

 

The many merits of minestrone:
  • An all-in-one meal that cooks in a single pot
  • Quick cooking with advance prep options
  • Easy to reheat and leftovers taste great
  • Loaded with nutrient-rich veggies and plant-based, fiber-rich protein
  • Easy to make vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and/or create a meat-lovers variation
  • Excellent choice when preparing dinner for a new mom, sick friend, etc.

 

An abundance of colorful veggies is the basis for this classic, comforting soup, which cooks in one pot for a go-to meal on a busy night. The flexible recipe is protein-rich and plant-based, but a variety of meats may be added for those who enjoy.

A small amount of pasta adds to the satiating quality of this meal, and gluten-free free options may be used. My family has taken a recent liking to Banza pasta, which is made from chickpeas and offers a high protein, lower carb and gluten free alternative to traditional pasta.

For those who may also gravitate towards this type of pasta, I have yet to try it in this soup but think it would work well as long as it’s added a few minutes later, as the cooking time is slightly shorter than traditional pasta. (As a general rule when making any pasta substitution in this soup: refer to the cooking time on the package and adjust when you add it to the minestrone accordingly.)

For added flavor when I make minestrone, I sometimes add a Parmesan rind once the mixture comes to a simmer and/or stir in 2-3 tablespoons of pesto at the very end.

I’ve mentioned additional ways to customize this soup in the recipe card, but feel free to make other adjustments based on what you enjoy and have on hand. Love butter beans? Use them in place of one of the other beans-or in addition to if you like. Not a fan of green beans? Stir in 2 to 3 cups of chopped spinach or kale instead. Tomato puree or sauce may be used in place of the crushed variety. And if you really adore tomatoes? Add a can of chopped stewed tomatoes, too.

My family gives this simple soup high marks. I usually serve it with a side of cornbread or a crusty roll, although a generous bowlful is delightful as is. For the reasons I’ve mentioned above, minestrone is also a great pick when preparing dinner for a friend in need. I’ve prepared it for this purpose and appreciate the ease of preparation and packaging for delivery. There’s also no need to abide by rigid timing-the soup can be made when convenient and reheated as needed-and recipients often appreciate a hearty dish that happens to be healthy, too.

An abundance of colorful veggies is the basis for this classic, comforting soup, which cooks in one pot for a go-to meal on a busy night. The flexible recipe is protein-rich and plant-based, but a variety of meats may be added for those who enjoy.

You get the most flavor and texture out of the vegetables by simmering them for just long enough to cook the dry pasta until perfectly al dente. I mention a few additional tips in the recipe notes to bolster flavor, options and make dinnertime feel more effortless.

An abundance of colorful veggies is the basis for this classic, comforting soup, which cooks in one pot for a go-to meal on a busy night. The flexible recipe is protein-rich and plant-based, but a variety of meats may be added for those who enjoy.

The recipe makes nearly three quarts, and while you could cut it in half, the minestrone will keep for nearly a week in the fridge and reheats easily. Plus the flavor improves over time. The soup also freezes well and is perfect for sharing!

An abundance of colorful veggies is the basis for this classic, comforting soup, which cooks in one pot for a go-to meal on a busy night. The flexible recipe is protein-rich and plant-based, but a variety of meats may be added for those who enjoy.

30-Minute Minestrone
Yield: a scant 3 quarts
An abundance of colorful veggies is the basis for this classic, comforting soup, which cooks quickly in one pot. The flexible recipe is protein-rich and plant-based, but a variety of meats may be added for those who enjoy.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion yellow chopped (~1 small)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (~2 carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini (~1 small-medium zucchini)
  • 3 ribs celery chopped (I include any leaves)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth for vegan recipe
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (28-ounce) can Italian-style crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen green beans (could substitute chopped greens of choice)
  • 1 cup uncooked elbow or ditalini pasta (use GF as needed)
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar; ½ cup chopped fresh parsley;  shredded Parmesan cheese (omit or serve on the side for vegan option)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large soup pot, and sauté the onion, carrots, celery and zucchini for 5 to 6 minutes, just until slightly softened. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the broth, both beans, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then stir in the frozen green beans and uncooked pasta. Return to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. (Helpful hint: I start checking the pasta a few minutes early and remove the pot from the heat when the pasta is still slightly firmer than I prefer to eat it, as the hot soup will continue to cook the noodles for several minutes after removing the pot from the heat. This will prevent overcooked or mushy pasta. You’ll also get the most flavor and texture out of the vegetables by simmering them for just long enough to cook the pasta.)
  3. Stir in the parsley, if using. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. (Precise amount will depend on type of broth used and personal preference.) I like to also stir in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, as the hint of acid adds subtle complexity to the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
  4. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the soup will keep well for approximately 5 days and can be frozen for 2 to 3 months.
Notes & Options

The soup will thicken and become somewhat more stew-like as it sits overnight. If you prefer a soupier consistency, you may wish to have some extra broth on hand to thin any leftovers.
Meat lovers may enjoy the addition of cooked and shredded chicken, browned ground beef, turkey or sausage, or sliced smoked sausage.
Feel free to add chopped greens of choice instead of green beans and/or add a chopped red bell pepper when sautéing the other vegetables.
For added flavor when I make minestrone, I sometimes add a Parmesan rind once the mixture comes to a simmer and/or stir in 2-3 tablespoons of pesto at the very end.

Helpful hints:
As chopping vegetables is often the only tedious part of a recipe, I frequently chop them in advance and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook. This small bit of advance prep can make dinnertime feel truly effortless.
Swish some of the broth in the emptied crushed tomato can to extract every last ounce of the flavorful puree.
I tend to go a little heavy on the veggies, leaning towards rounded cupfuls. Also, I recently made this soup with 4 cups of homemade, unsalted stock and 2 cups of low-sodium canned broth, and I used 2 teaspoons of salt. Feel free to adjust the seasoning to taste based on personal preference and type of broth or stock used.

 

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

An abundance of colorful veggies is the basis for this classic, comforting soup, which cooks in one pot for a go-to meal on a busy night. The flexible recipe is protein-rich and plant-based, but a variety of meats may be added for those who enjoy.

For those who tried Asian Sesame Party Meatballs (pictured below), you may remember that I discovered them when reviewing Valerie Brunmeier’s new cookbook, The Foolproof Family Slow Cooker and Other One-Pot Solutions. Though I’ve included my own adaptations to the minestrone, true credit goes to Valerie. When reviewing her book, I was torn among three recipes that I thought my readers would particularly enjoy. As such, Valerie gave me her blessing to share any or all of them!

These party-perfect bites are saucy, tender and bursting with favorite Asian flavors. Serve over rice for a crowd-pleasing entree.

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Comments

  1. Jane Link

    Hi Ann,
    I never cook my pasta in the soup, finding it gets too mushy especially if I am making the soup with reheating in mind. I cook my pasta separately, sometimes even a couple of days ahead for another recipe and just keep some in reserve for my soup. Love making minestrone because you can make it different with just a few changes.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Jane, I have done the same thing, as it does afford more control. That said, the ease of cooking everything in one pot is appealing to so many, which is why I mention removing from the heat when the pasta is just short of done. Thank you for pointing out the option for those who may prefer it!

      Reply
  2. Kim Crowe

    Thank you for sharing Ann! I loved the soup..I followed your recipe and used fresh green beans as I had them on hand and I added a handful of fresh spinach!

    Reply